World War One French officer’s bedroom intact after 100 years

A soldier’ who fought and died in World War One is being remembered 100 years after the war. The French officer’s bedroom at his home in central France remains just the way he left it.

Second Lieutenant Hubert Rochereau lived with his parents in the village of Bélâbre in central western France until he left to fight in World War One. A mounted cavalry officer, Hubert was sent to the Belgian front, which had been opened up by the German Army shortly after the start of World War One.  The Germans had wanted to make gains in the industrial areas of France, then advance towards the coastline. The Belgian front, however, remained virtually the same for the entire four years of the war.  Rochereau died there in 1918 at the age of 22 when he was wounded in battle and was being treated in a medical ambulance at the front.

When Hubert’s parents were told about his death, they decided that one way to remember him and commemorate his life was to leave his room exactly as he had left it when he went away to war.  The room has remained untouched for almost 100 years. Even though the house has changed ownership, Hubert’s parents had written into their sale agreement that his room should not be altered for 500 years. This is not legally binding, however subsequent owners have adhered to the request out of respect for Hubert, The Washington Post reports.

The room is a small corner room with windows on two of the walls. His clothes and tattered military uniform remain hanging next to his desk, while his shoes are arranged next to his bed. The room is full of early 20th century relics, ornaments and pictures, as well as Hubert’s lace-covered single bed, a bookshelf, desk and wooden wardrobe.

The small village of Bélâbre, which has only around 1000 inhabitants, has gained international fame.  The Mayor of Bélâbre stated that the village and its citizens are proud to have the room and Hubert’s memory commemorated there. He also said that village officials are now trying to locate Hubert’s ancestors and find a patron who will ensure that his room will be saved as it is for generations to come. The room has gained notice lately since 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One; visitors have reported that seeing the room is like taking a step back in time.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE